Combining Two Rough Drafts into One Novel

Hoo boy! I've decided to combine two rough drafts into one novel. I currently have about 300 pages from the manuscripts printed out and have to figure out how I'm going to make this into one cohesive novel. I've spent days online trying to find a guide how to do this. Apparently, no one else has ever had the brilliant idea of combining two rough drafts into one novel. So, here ya go. A guide of how I'm doing it. I'm sure I'll make mistakes, but maybe if I warn you of those mistakes you won't make the same when you find yourself in this position.

First off, I suppose you're curious why I decided to combine the two. I have a few different reasons.

  1. Both female characters are about the same age, have issues with their families, and aren't happy until they reconnect with someone from their past. 
  2. I couldn't decide which of them I wanted to work on more at this time.
  3. I was afraid that either of them would fall a little short of my expectations, but I believe combining them would be a well-rounded story (if I do this correctly).
  4. And last but not least, I'm afraid of writing the same story repeatedly. It seems that several of my rough drafts are similar enough (at least to me) that I'd essentially be telling the same story repeatedly, just changing the characters and the setting. What fun would that be for me to write? Or for you to read?

It's been a week since I decided I was going to combine these two stories and I haven't accomplished much.

Today, I declared myself on a "facebook break" for about a week. Hopefully, by the time that week is up, I'll have made substantial progress.

My process so far has been to figure out which characters the combined story will be about, using "Find and Replace" to change those to the correct name (but clearly, there will still be errors to fix during revisions).

I've also imported the two stories into Scrivener and split it all into scenes, marking scenes that have conflict and scenes that are currently boring. (There are a lot of those.) I'm using Darcy Pattison's Novel Metamorphosis as a revision guide, loosely. I'm not doing every exercise in the book (so far). I'm also trying to do some things I learned from Holly Lisle's One Pass Revision system. I always end up with multiple revisions, but I do try to keep an eye out for errors like typos starting at the first pass.

Essentially what I have now is 282 pages of really, really, really rough draft. I printed it all out last night and finally forced myself to start scribbling on the manuscript tonight. So far I'm to page 27. The sad part is that I thought it was pretty good when I decided to do this.

Now, when I have a pen in my hand, I'm not so impressed. Which wouldn't normally bother me, but right now, I'm not even feeling much inspiration or clear direction how to fix that which doesn't impress me. However, I will plow through this and I know as I get further into the story, and get the BIG issues worked out the story will become clearer to me.

And the clearer the story is, the more fun it will be to revise. Or so I hope. I don't even have a working title yet, so there isn't any webpage and no blurb about the story.

I'll post more about my experience combining two rough drafts into one novel as I get further into the revision process.